On February 12, 2003, heavy rains drenched Southern California, flooding major roads and triggering mudslides across the region. On average, 2.88 inches of rain fell in downtown Los Angeles this week pushing rainfall totals slightly over average levels for this time of year. All-time rainfall records were broken in numerous other locations. Mt. Wilson accumulated 7.68 inches of rain in 24 hours breaking the old record of 3.34 inches set just 2 years ago. The rains were much needed as the entire region has been in a state of drought for many months.
The rains were caused by a storm system off the Baja Peninsula. Storms originating southwest of California tend to bring more rain since the warmer air can accommodate more moisture. This image and animation show the swath of rain accumulation produced by the storm upon making landfall in Southern California. The rain accumulation shown above was created using data from NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) satellite combined with data from other rain measuring satellites.
Image and animation courtesy Hal Pierce, TRMM Science Team